dry brushing

Have you ever tried dry brushing your skin? I first tried it about a month ago, in an attempt to improve my dry, itchy winter skin. The internet is full of claims about the wonders of dry brushing. Most people agree that its a good way to exfoliate, giving you softer, smother skin. Dry brushing also increases circulation, helps the lymphatic system, and can decrease bloating (similar to the benefits of massage). Hippie science loves dry brushing- you can find claims that it helps the body detox, lose weight, improve digestion and eliminate cellulite. Of course none of these claims have been proven, but the brushes are inexpensive, so I figured I'd give it a try.

I did not find dry brushing to be a miracle cure for all my problems (at least not yet), but I do like it. My skin does feel softer and the skin on my legs doesn't feel as dry and itchy as it did. I appreciate that it's a re-usable way to exfoliate, and at about 10 bucks for a brush, its cheaper and less wasteful than buying bottles of body scrubs. Dry brushing before you shower in the morning is also a great way to wake up! The tingling sensation it causes is very invigorating and does make me inclined to believe some of the claims about improving your circulation.

If you want to give dry brushing a try, read on for a few tips:

Step one: you need a brush. They can be found at most natural food or beauty stores, such as Whole Foods. You want to be sure to get one with natural, not synthetic, bristles. I ordered this brush online and I like it.

Before you start brushing, make sure both your brush and your skin are totally dry. I like to do it before my morning shower, but it can be done any time of day. Start at your ankles and brush upwards, always towards the heart. Check out this cute diagram:

Use a light, quick motion, not a firm scrub. You should feel it, but it shouldn't hurt. It's recommended to start out brushing two or three times a week to see how your skin reacts. If your skin seems sensitive or raw, use less pressure or brush less frequently. Oh, and don't brush any irritated or wounded skin (ouch!). Once you're all brushed up, hop in the shower or bath to wash away all those dead skin cells you just brushed off (eew!), and then apply moisturizing lotion.

And poof! Smoother and (maybe) miraculously better skin will be yours!

For more info, check out these guides from Refinery29 and BlissTree, as well as the NY Times analysis of its efficacy.

[top photo via BlissTree, illustration from Nokomis Lane]

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